The steep cost of electronic health record systems in today's market makes seeing a return on investment that much more important. Luckily, there are a few basic ways to see financial gains after implementing an EHR. Heidi Jannenga, co-founder and COO, and Paul Winandy, CEO of physical therapy software WebPT, outline five basic ways to get ROI from your EHR.
1. The ability to see more patients. Once the implementation stage is over, the time typically spent on documentation with paper records can now be spent seeing more patients. And according to Jannenga and Winandy, an important part of seeing ROI by spending less time on documentation is workflow. “The workflow [needs to] match that of a practicing therapist or physician,” said Jannenga.
2. Appointment reminders. Significant reduction in missed appointments leads to a better bottom line, said Jannenga, with studies proving the impact of automating the reminder process through texts, emails, etc. “Cancel and no-show ratios are a key performance indicator to look at because if they can cancel, that no-show rate can decrease and the arrival rate can increase and increase revenue,” she added. ”This is something most clinics are in tune with. If they can improve that by 30 percent, for example, that’s big from out of the gate.”
3. Increased staff efficiency and claims processing. An efficient EHR system can also eventually mean less time filing, faxing, retrieving charts and moving documents. “Processing claims means claims are paid faster,” added Winandy. “And, before changing from paper, you have charts in multiple locations. It’s the time spent retrieving that chart: you need to have everything in one place. If you can access [a chart] from anywhere, that person who needs the record [can have it] in seconds or minutes.”
4. Little hardware or IT costs. This is true if the system is a cloud-based EMR, said Winnandy. “The cloud can work on any Internet device, and you can access it at home on a lap top or on a smart phone,” he said. “Cloud-based systems are where the IT industry is going.”
[See also: Mostashari: Meaningful use to reach new heights.]
5. Improved reimbursements with legible, more compliant documentation. According to Jannenga, compliance is a significant issue. “With Medicare in the news right now and RAC audits, physicians and therapists are under that same scrutiny,” she said. “Many clinics rely on Medicare patients for income, and insurances tend to follow the track of Medicare; if they implement different requirements, most insurances will follow suit.” And when it comes to your EHR, she said, they have to create meaningful use, half of which is addressing compliance issues. “So alerts that make sure you’re putting in the right type of document to satisfy requirements,” she said. “No one can police you that way if you’re writing on paper.” Another added bonus? “Therapists, like physicians, aren’t known for their penmanship,” she said. “Legible documentation can be huge to submit to insurance companies – if they can’t read it, they’re not going to pay.”
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